Barbara Southard


I stand in the stern of my father’s boat, its Red Wing engine 
thrumming vibrations skittering across the soles of my feet.
First love arriving in the vapors of hot metal and oil, droning 
mantra, piston-pumping power. From there, a succession 
of seducers: the seven-and-a-half Mercury pushing my
boat over wayward waves like Grendel roaring 
in pain and rage from his cave, the next machine quieter 
but far more dangerous: an ironing mangle with hot steel 
lips, steaming abyss of the roller, rumbling round and round, 
my child fingers avoiding the pull of blistering metal while 
turning rumpled sheets into smooth ordered sweet smelling
folds, then my sister’s Singer sewing machine, with its
staccato of needle going up and down upanddown 
upanddown-upanddown, tattooing the air with a capriccio 
of rat-a-tat-tats. Next love runs deep: a cool-blue steel 
etching press with inked plates on its smooth bed, 
dampened paper on top, silky as a baby’s behind, its large  
roller sweet-talking ink into acid-bit grooves as I crank 
the wheel in a silent room, only to be enticed by an old 
Chief 29 printing press, its translucent inks ribboning over 
rollers, clattering drum, moving parts slick with oil, spitting 
out yellow, magenta, cyan, black, like the rhythmic beat of 
a poem—which leads me to you and the thump thump 
thump of the washing machine keeping time with the ram  
jam drive of love filling the hours in the blue strange 

light of night singing for more.

back to top



send comments to info@poetrybay.com

first electronic copyright 2000 poetrybay. 
all rights revert to author



Poetrybay seeks fine poetry, reviews, commentary and essays without restriction in form or content, and reserves first electronic copyright to all work published. All rights to published work revert to the author following publication. All Email submissions should be in body of email text.

To submit poems write to:

PO Box 114 
Northport NY 11768
or email us at 

send comments to info@poetrybay.com

first electronic copyright 2004 poetrybay. 
all rights revert to authors

website comments to dpb@islandguide.com